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    The Family Business | Fall 2014 Out Here Magazine

    Ranching is in the blood of the Good brothers

    Gib and Ferd Good leaning against a fence from behind
    Gib, left, and Ferd take a moment for a photo after gelding one of the colts. After all these years, they still don't shy from a long and hard day's work.
    Out Here

    By Tom Martin

    Photography by Rachael Martin

    Out on the western border of Missouri near Kansas City, a family of ranchers has made a living raising horses, cattle, and crops for more than 70 years.

    Brothers Ferdinand and Gilbert Good — of Good Bros. Cattle Company in Belton, Mo. — have lived their lives and made their living on land where you can still stand on your porch and watch the sun rise and set on a horizon of grass.

    Once part of the nearly treeless prairie that stretched from eastern Colorado to Ohio, it is ideal country for making a living from the land. But it can be brutal, with weather that can turn severe at a moment's notice, testing the fortitude of any family.

    It's a testament to the strength of this ranching family that they always wear a smile and can bring a laugh, even when Mother Nature interferes with their well-laid plans.

    Near the turn of the last century, the brothers' grandfather, Ferdinand Owen, and his eight brothers operated the largest horse and mule trading operation in the United States. Owen Bros. Horse and Mule Company operated farms in more than six states with a customer list that included the U.S. military, supplying stock for World War II, and shipping animals to three continents.

    The Good brothers looked to make their fortunes in livestock — they had ranching in their blood, after all — and started out with just a few animals given them by their grandfather and a few dollars in their pockets.

    Gilbert — more commonly known as Gib — and Ferd purchased nearly 2,000 acres in Belton in 1951 to grow their own business. But that's where the difference between Grandpa and the two brothers becomes apparent.

    Where Grandpa Ferd Owen was a trader, Gib and Ferd Good are ranchers and breeders. And even after all these years, theirs remains a no-frills working ranch. They are the first to start and last to quit and have no problem getting their hands dirty.

    Whether changing out a well pump or gelding a colt, the brothers are right in the middle of the action. And they've made a reputation of raising horses and cattle just as hardy as they are.

    About 98 percent of their mares are successfully bred, Gib says. And, Ferd explains, "For years we had a 100 percent foal drop," meaning that every pregnant mare successfully gave birth to a healthy foal that survived and thrived.

    About 98 percent of their mares are successfully bred, Gib says. And, Ferd explains, "For years we had a 100 percent foal drop," meaning that every pregnant mare successfully gave birth to a healthy foal that survived and thrived.

    That's pretty unusual since for the most part they only doctor when they need to, and let the animals raise themselves on big pastures where they are mostly left alone.

    Their sound, healthy, livestock has put the brothers in the points in the show ring and in the winner's circle on many occasions. Indeed, one of their horses was named the World Champion Junior Western Riding Horse for 1980.

    Ferd is still tickled at people who say they can't raise healthy and winning horses the way they do, by keeping stallions with the mares until December, leaving the mares on pasture with the cows, letting weanlings stay with the mares in big pastures, and not breaking horses to lead until they're ready to ride them as 4-year olds.

    The brothers rarely shoe a horse, either.

    And it seems that that philosophy works just as well for the next generation of Goods. Gib's daughter, Reeve, and her family live on the ranch with her father and uncle. Her brother John is building his own ranch just a few miles away with his wife and daughter.

    And all of them — children and grandchildren — are just as comfortable on horseback as their great-great-grandfather.

    Tom Martin, of Belton, Mo., is an assistant manager at Tractor Supply Co., writer, prairie restorer, and furniture maker.

     

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